As someone who enjoys the idea of exercise and being fit, in principle at least, it shocks me that my absolute lack of motivation when it comes to doing active things has carried on for as long as it has. Let me also state that I am not obese (at-least not now as I type away on my laptop with a packet of Kettle potato chips in one hand) but I am not fit either. To put numbers to this observation, I cannot run for more than 5 mins without gasping for breath and calling out for help for resuscitation – that last part is an exaggeration. I hate the idea of sweating. Why couldn’t us humans be more like elephants – just needing a roll in the mud or a swim in the water to cool off! Plus, I run funny.
So, when I go on a run with my husband, he does the running for both of us. I try and run whenever I feel like taking a break from slow walking and people gazing. I realized that this was not going to work out for me and decided to try something else. Yoga was the obvious choice. By virtue of being an Indian, I thought I would naturally be good at yoga. No prizes for guessing I sucked at it. My yoga teacher had to contain a smile whenever I tried standing still on one foot. I had to contain my smile whenever those funny breathing exercises came up. But, overall Yoga was good. It is one of those things that will not give you instant results but if you persist with it your overall health can improve. Given my propensity or lack of it for patience, I concluded that while Yoga will always be something I can go back to or do intermittently at home, I needed something more fun. My prayers were answered when I discovered Zumba.
Now, for people who enjoy dancing, Zumba is tons of fun. It gives you an overall workout but you feel like you are in a dance rehearsal learning new steps with cool music in the background. I loved it and even if you cannot find a class you can always search on youtube and dance along in your living room. The only downside – it doesn’t necessarily target any specific body area or problem. I really thought that I had found the solution to my fitness woes with Zumba but I was wrong. Travelling to and from my class (is a bit of a pain in the Singaporean heat) along with scheduling issues resulted in a painful breakup with Zumba. I thought I would heed my own advice and train using online videos but that is yet to translate into meaningful action.
As you can see I make way too many excuses. Unfortunately, none of that has prevented me from hoarding work out clothes in department stores and buying stuff that I probably don’t need to. Every time I make such a purchase I have a rational argument with myself – “You need to look good when you exercise”. But on the upside, I burn some carbs walking in and out of the changing rooms!
All this mockery came to a much needed halt a few weeks back when I visited the doctor for a check-up and came to the realization that I needed to be more healthy. Nothing serious but there are so many factors such as genes, hereditary tendencies and lifestyle choices that can have an adverse affect on your health in the long run. I have started off doing some simple things which I am listing below:
1. Tracking my food habits using MyFitnessPal app. Trust me, once you get used to logging in your daily food intake, it will open up a whole new world of data for you to understand what you are putting into your body. This app is great because it has a huge repository of food which is a massive USP because it is hard to find Indian food in most of the other apps. I already find myself eating healthier food.
2. Taking the stairs whenever I can. Singapore is blessed with escalators and elevators at every nook and corner. So much so that, people do not mind queueing up near escalators for minutes instead of taking a flight of stairs. This activity may not be an exercise in itself but I like doing it because it makes me feel fitter.
3. Cooking at home more often. You do not realize how much better it is to eat at home until you actually stop eating out. It is inevitable to have one meal at work (lunch in most cases) and yes you can eat salads and soups but you will have those one or two off days when the team goes out for something more fancy. Coming back home and cooking dinner is not always possible but I have made a conscious attempt to get up early or prep over the weekend so that we minimize the no. of times we eat out. This has had the biggest impact on my heath in a relatively shorter span of time.
4. Playing badminton. I realized that when I am doing something competitive, I tend to push myself harder. This is exactly what I was not getting with running, zumba and yoga. Thank God for badminton because apart from being a fun sport to play (which sport isn’t? Err, Golf) I do not get bored or feel tired while doing this activity. I play every week with my husband and it is such a great couples activity to do as well.
5. Reconnecting with my old clothes. After I put on a bit of weight I realized there were some clothes that I could not wear. Not until I lost that weight. Slowly those favourite shirts moved to the back of my closet and newer ones replaced them. Every now and then I keep shuttling those clothes to the front to try and see how far I have come along in my quest to lose weight. There is no greater joy than being able to fit into an old pair of jeans. It is also one of the best motivations to keep you on track!
6. Trekking/Hiking: I hate going to the gym. If you are like me and prefer walking out in the nature over that on electronic machine then go on treks and/or hikes on weekends. You can go with your partner or with friends. It s not only a great way to exercise but also allows you to explore new places and newer views. Bonus points if you love photography.
Of course, eating healthy and regular exercise are your two best friends when losing weight but if you are unable to stick to your diet plans or are not feeling motivated to exercise daily, keep doing smaller things on a daily basis to stay on track. All of these are small steps but they are in the right direction and have slowly but surely helped me get back on the track to being fit.
I am in the early stages of my fitness goals but I will report back once I have accomplished something more concrete. After all I love my skinny jeans from 2008 way too much to watch it gather dust sitting at the back of my closet!